Friday, 28 November 2008

Crafts and Computers

Most of the time I think a computer is a crafters best friend. With it I can access the Internet and therefore source crafting materials, talk to other crafters in forums, promote my goods etc. Away from the Internet I can do my accounts, make up new design and deal with all my show bookings.... great..... until something like earlier this month happened when both of my hard drives (laptop and desktop) decided to break in the same week.... so even though I had been backing stuff up I lost it all :-(

So now I've bought one of those stand alone hard drives and I shall backing everything up TWICE, what are the chances of 3 hard drives going at the same time do you think?

Speaking of forums, I read an interesting statement on a forum the other day. The website owner said "You can say whatever you want in this forum", not sure what prompted them to write that but it seems a bit of a strange statement, somewhat naive. What is it about the internet which makes people think it isn't governed my either everyday social rules or even the law.... of course you can't write what you want in a forum, and should you write anything which is libellous, racist, promotes hatred etc. it would be a very silly site owner who didn't take any action. Forums are great, I'm a member of at least 10, Craft Forums, animation forums and software forums but I like to think I behave in them no differently than I do in face to face meetings :-)

Friday, 10 October 2008

New SIte

Well I've finally finished my Free Craft Downloads site, an amalgamation of backingpapers.forfree.orguk,,, and

Should be much easier for me to keep update and a lot easier for people to find what they need quickly as this site has a search engine :-) Rather than go into details heres a link to a copy of the relevant newslette:



Sunday, 5 October 2008

Just a moan about "Change"

Firstly let me just say the Craft4Charity has now raised over £2,000 so a huge thanks to everyone involved.

The rest of the blog is just going to be a bit of a moan.

I've never considered myself as a "conservative" (notice the small c) but two things have happened this weekend which may make me rethink.

Firstly they've destroyed one of my favourite websites, BBC Radio 7, obviously still love the station, who couldn't love all that SiFi, Sherlock Holmes, Hancocks Half hour etc etc ( if you've never listened then do give it a go) I even love some of literature they have on there. However they have managed to completely destroy the web site associated with it, they taken a nice, functional qwerky site and changed it to fit in the the corporate BBC look, worse still they have removed some of the best functionality and hidden the rest of it where it's difficult to find. Why change something which is working and people like. A quick glance at their message board (if yo can find it) shows you exactly what the users think.

To make matters worse I sat down with my youngest son today to watch the "Famous Five" on the Disney channel, we were looking forward to this as for the last couple of months we've been working through the first three of the Adventures for his bedtime story.... if you haven't seen this TV offering yet please don't, if you have the slightest memory of the books this TV series will make you cry. Dick has been renamed "Dylan", Ann is a cheer leader, Julian is "daft" and George, well george isn't a tomboy any more.... there's no sign of Uncle Quinton or unsurprisingly Aunte Fanny. The "HOUMOUR" (and there are lots of attempts at it) is along the lines of Scooby Doo, mostly based on the daft Julian, the air head Ann and, forgot to say,Dick (sorry Dylan) a money orientated nerd. Please give it a miss if you have fond memories of the books. I'm sure if it hadn't been named the Famous Five it would just have disappeared in to the mire of childrens TV... unfortunately some idiot decided to sell them the rights, you would have hopped that more care was taken with the legacy :-(

Well thats enough of my ramblings...nothing to do with crafts I know but the title of the blog does include the "and more" :-)

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Unashamed Plug, Craft4Charity CD

The Craft4Charity CD is now for sale on the Craft4Charity Web Site (

The CD contain designs from some of the best known paper craft designers around, Alan and Barry, FeeJ, Jo Price, Sharon Duncan, Funky Hand, Andy Carolan, Diane Dorward and more. Over 450 design sheets (backing sheets, 8x8 papers, tbag designs, Inserts, etc) in a range of theams.

The designers have kindly donated their work for free, and the CD has been put together for free so all the profits from each CD will be going to the UK Rett Association.

You can buy the CD directly fro the Craft4Charity website, where you can see more details and the video introduction or from Alan and Barrys crafts (shortly) or FeeJ Designs.

Please tell your friends, we obviously want to raise as much money as possible from this worthwhile cause.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Craft For Charity 2

The Craft4Charuty CD will be coming out in the next week or so, here is a copy of the video made for the CDmade by Aland and Barry of Alan and Barrys Crafts

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Craft 4 Charity

So where can you get a Single CD for paper crafters with contributions from many of your favourite designers?

Well coming in September is a Charity CD from with no less than 8 different designers.

Alan and Barry, Sharon Duncan, FeeJ Designs, Andy Carolan, Diane Dorward, Backing Paper for Free, Funky Hand and Jo Price Designs have all contributed to make this a most exciting disc. Full details are to follow but register on the CRaft4Charity Website if you would like to be informed when the CD is available.

All the money raised from the CD will be going to the

Rett Syndrome Association UK

so as well as getting a great disc you will also be contributing to a very worth while charity. All the designers have kindly donationed their contributions for free, the website has been built and hosted for free and the disc has even been put together for free so the only expense will be the duplication and postage, every penny over this will be going to the Rett Syndrome Association. Please tell your friends, post it in any crafting forums you are a member off (as long as you are allowed). If you want any graphics or further information then visit the CRaft 4 Charity website,they will be please tohelp you out.

(FeeJ Designs have offered to have the Disc on their stand at the NEC in November, so if you want to save on postage that will be the place to get it. Rumour has it she will be having a "special guest" on her stand as well on at least one of the days so it should be well worth a look!)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Craft TV

A lot of people seem to have taken my last post to mean I don't like the Craft Shows on the shopping channels: far from it, I love them, even if it is sometimes like “car crash TV” . There are however two things which are really beginning to get to me.

  1. Paper Crafts
A lot of my friends are paper crafters and I can appreciate the skill (sometimes) involved but why does it have to be nothing but paper crafts... honestly I realise that these channels have to make a profit but as the moment they are all competing in a very small section of the market. Yes, paper crafts are VERY popular at the moment but its a chicken and egg situation, I think it would well be within these channels power to encourage a resurgence of knitting, glass painting, cross stitch or any other craft they chose to push. Lets have some different crafts with good demonstrations and I bet they would sell or do these channel want to keep on flogging a horse which must die sooner or later!!! PLEASE LET US HAVE SOME DIFFERENT CRAFTS....(even the big craft shows like the NEC are full of endless stalls with the same stuff on them:-( )

  1. “Lowest Common denominator crafting”
“Well folks just stick this on your blank card and you've made it!!!!!” What has that got to do with crafts.... where's the creativity... we all know crafters who can produce stunning work out of almost nothing but the shopping channels want as many people as possible to buy their goods so they aim to keep it as simple as possible... it's a style of “crafting” which, along with a lot of other stuff, has come over from the USA... OK it may have its place for crafters who are just starting out but lets not pretend buying a card which is 50% finished and then adding a single topper is really a craft. Crafts need to be learnt, developed, shared and must involved a creative element other wise its like claiming a painting is your own when it was a paint by numbers set (which yes I use because I can't paint for toffees, but then again neither do I claim to ).

Have fun with your crafting and maybe try something different this week :-)

Monday, 23 June 2008

TV Shopping Craft Shows

Shopping Channels, including those selling crafts are facing a major problem. Not so long ago people would watch their channel and if the viewer thought the product was good, and the presenter could persuade them that it was a bargin, then they would buy. Simple, straight forward and how a shopping channel should work

So what's changed... well mainly what you're looking at now, the internet.

Is it a bargain? No need to take the presenters word for it, a quick google search will most likely find exactly the same product ..... better still a price comparison site will find you a lowest price around. Remember the sites selling these items don't have the overheads which the shopping channels do; no studios, camera crews, production staff, editing equipment etc etc.

So now people are watching the demonstrations on the TV and then buying on the net, great news for the Internet retailers but a big problem for the shopping channels. Their only answer is to try and sell "exclusives" which isn't always possible.

Of course they could always try a bit of price fixing, they do have a fair bit of power over the suppliers but then that would be illegal, wouldn't it ;-)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Card Making and Paper Crafts. CDs

It continually surprises me that the sale of Craft CDs continues unabated. About 6 years ago when Chris Warner was selling CDs on Ideal World with Alan and Barry I confidently told anyone who would listen that sales would quickly decline and once everyone had one or two craft Cds then the bottom would fall out of the market.... how wrong I was....... I didn't allow for the fact that new designers would come along and produce work that would totally outshine Chris. Not only that but more Craft CDs would be programmes which would help people produce their own designs.

However the craft CD market is now facing new competition: firstly from sites providing immediate downloads of backing papers and decoupage sheets AND from sites giving away free paper crafting resources.

Just flick through Free Craft Stuff and you will will find 1,000s of free craft downloads , mostly made by gifted ammutuer designers. If you want free backing paper then Backing Papers for Free has 100's. Other sites do templates, T-bag sheets, decoupage sheets, tags and labels, almost everything you could want for your paper crafting. So will Craft CDs survive, I suspect the answer is yes for the foreseeable future (although they will slowly turn into Craft DVDs) because people enjoy collecting their favourite designer and it much easier to pick a CD up off the side than go searching on the internet where there is always a chance of getting sidelined on other things :-)

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Craft Shopping Telly..Good or Bad

There has no doubt been a huge increase in the amount of Craft Goods being sold on the TV Shopping Channels at least in quantity if not range.

QVC had sold crafts for a long time with Dawn Bibby being the anchor but it wasn't until Alan and Barry from Rainbow Glass arrived at Ideal World that things really took off. Some people loved watching them, others didn't enjoy their sense of humour at all :-) Whatever, it was down to them that Ideal World joined the Craft Market with a vengeance, launching the Create and Craft channel and later the Create and Craft Club

After leaving leaving Ideal World Alan and Barry went on to develop their own Website, now, in addition to presenting on JML and Channel 648 they also produce daily live shows on the internet.

So there's the quick history BUT has this been a good thing?

On the positive side:
  • There are now lots of craft demos to be seen even if most of them lean heavily on "the sell"
  • It has definitely driven down prices (although this would probably have happened as the Internet became more popular anyway) 10 years ago most peel offs were £1 a sheet in many shops and at the NEC. In the last 10 years the prices have dropped remarkably.
  • It has brought many more people into crafts, attracting a lot of people who through disability or location are unable to get to craft classes.
On the negative side:
  • Shopping Channels would have you believe that paper crafts were the bee all and end all of crafting. Paper Crafts: card making, decoupage, scrap booking etc are obviously a cash cow for the shopping channels and they are going to milk it for every penny they can get.
  • The quality of some of the items sold on these channels can be a bit suspect and they aren't always as cheap as they like to make you believe.
  • They are driving some of the smaller craft shops out of business... leaving us with just papercraft suppliers rather than real craft shops run by craft enthusiasts.
  • They have a very simplistic idea of crafts, the American "stick A to B" style of crafting. They don't try and sell crafts or techniques which are difficult or take time to learn as they only want to sell stuff everybody can do irrespective of time, ability and talent. If it can't be demonstrated in 60 seconds then they aren't interested (OK that may be a bit of an exaggeration but I still believe it's based in the truth)
In the end it doesn't matter the shopping channels are here to stay (well some of them at least) and we will see an increase in TV style websites as well but remember "you get what you pay for" Whilst shopping channels and larger sites can often offer cheap(ish) prices the smaller sites and local shops often excell at customers service and advice. Lets face it, in these ays of money means everything your order is probably less than o.o1% of a shopping channels daily takings but it could be something like 10% of a small shops / sites takings... who do you think is going to value you more :-)

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Craft Forums

Well I wasn't going to do a blog like this but everyone seems to be doing it now-a-days so I thought I'd give it a go :-) I have various interests, card making, glass painting, computer crafts etc... but I also have a life away from crafting.

Sadly the first thing to report on is the suspension of the Arts and Crafts Direct Forum. A message on the site says

"The forum has been suspended until further notice due to inappropriate use."
I wasn't actually a member of this particular forum but I have been a member of two others which have been closed down because of "in fighting". The fact that this seems to happen fairly often begs quite a few questions.... this time the forum was obviously closed because of arguments over the "My Craft Studio" software and whether or not it does what it should, if it was released too early and whether people who previously bought the software should get an apology. I can't really comment on the specifics of this case because I have never tried the software but for me it raises wider issues:

1. Should commercial sites have forums (or is it just asking for trouble). Should forums just be run by "independent sites (,,

2. If it is on a commercial site should it be seen as integral part of the site run by the owners or a service run by the owners for their users.

3. Is a companies forum the correct place for customer complaints, is any forum owner going to leave them there? Can any customer who can't seem to get an answer elsewhere resist putting a message in the forum :-)

4. What should a forum owner do about "inter forum flame wars"

5. What should a forum owner do about criticisms of competitors or a competitors product in their forum.

No doubt the Craft Forums will continue but it does seem sad that people who take no part in a particular argument / thread loose the facility of a forum altogether. Sometimes I don't think these companies realise how "stuck on" a forum people can get... its where they meet their friends, swap stories and even get support. Removing that without warning could be remarkably upsetting. Too many companies seem to think they can tag a forum onto their site and then forget it or hand the responsibility of it to some poor volunteer who then has to manage with little support.

We shall wait and see if Art and CRaft Direct decide to bring theirs back.